Philadelphia 76ers at Golden State Warriors NBA Pick for January 31st
We have 6 games on the schedule for Thursday night in the NBA, but just one of those qualifies as a likely Finals preview. We do have a tremendous matchup between the Bucks and Raptors earlier in the night, but things will come to a close with a couple of high-octane teams going head-to-head in Oakland.
The 2-time defending champion Golden State Warriors will host the upstart Philadelphia 76ers.
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It’s safe to say the Warriors have hit their stride since seemingly sleepwalking through the first few months of the campaign. Golden State has re-assumed the top spot in the Western Conference, as they now hold a one-game lead over the Denver Nuggets.
The Dubs have won 11 straight games overall, and they are still unbeaten since DeMarcus Cousins returned from his Achilles injury a couple of weeks ago.
Golden State has largely benefited from an easy schedule, but 11 straight wins is 11 straight wins.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, is currently occupying the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. The 76ers’ 33-18 mark puts them a half-game up on the Pacers for that No. 3 spot, with the Boston Celtics lurking just one game back.
I would expect Indiana to fall in the standings now that Victor Oladipo has been lost for the season, but the battle with the Celtics will be a dogfight.
The Sixers have gone 6-4 over their last 10 games, though they are coming off a stirring 121-105 triumph over the Lakers on Tuesday night. Philly essentially dominated that game from the jump, and they got Jimmy Butler back after he missed a couple of games due to a lingering wrist injury.
The following odds are courtesy of live odds feed:
|2019 ATS Home||14-12-0||10-13-1|
|2019 ATS Away||10-15-0||13-13-0|
|2019 O/U Home||15-11-0||11-13-0|
|2019 O/U Away||13-12-0||17-9-0|
Golden State Looks Unstoppable
It was fair to wonder how the Warriors would incorporate DeMarcus Cousins. They managed to effortlessly introduce another high-usage player in Kevin Durant a couple of years ago, but there was at least an outside chance that Cousins wouldn’t jive with the style of offense the Warriors like to play.
Cousins is as skilled an offensive big man as you’ll find in the league, but his plodding style doesn’t exactly scream “pace and space.”
Regardless, they’ve managed to make it work thus far. Cousins has still been operating on a minutes limit, but he has been putting up solid numbers even in limited playing time.
In the 5 games since his return, Boogie is averaging 15.2 points, 7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and just under a block and a steal per game. He’s managed to do all of this despite not having played more than 25 minutes in any game.
I think it’s safe to suggest he could challenge for 27-30 minutes tonight given the matchup with Joel Embiid and the 76ers. Cousins has looked no worse for the wear from a game shape standpoint, and this will be his first game in a Warriors uniform in front of the home crowd.
Having someone as reliable as Cousins while also boasting the likes of Durant, Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson is downright unfair to Golden State’s opponents.
The usage rates for the others have taken a hit since Cousins came back, but that hasn’t stopped the Warriors from looking dominant. 3 of their 5 games with Cousins have been decided by at least 18 points.
One thing to watch for with the Warriors is players possibly resting. Draymond Green sat out the win over Indiana the other night for rest purposes. Golden State knows the regular season doesn’t mean a whole lot, so it wouldn’t be a total surprise to see them resting other players over the next few weeks.
I think they’re less inclined to rest their own stars in front of their home fans, but we’ll see. Obviously, someone like Durant or Curry sitting out to rest would impact this game from a betting angle.
Plenty of Star Power in Philly
Let’s not forget that the Sixers have 3 All-Stars of their own in Embiid, Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler. Butler has taken a bit of a backseat since coming over in the trade from the Timberwolves back in November, but he played a huge part in the win over the Lakers the other night.
Butler was seemingly everywhere on the floor, finishing with 20 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals in just 29 minutes of action.
Butler hasn’t always looked like an ideal fit playing next to Simmons and Embiid, but if he’s changing the game defensively like he was on Tuesday he’ll wind up being a godsend for Philly in the long run. This team still needs to add a little more shooting ahead of the trade deadline, but if they do there is little reason to believe this can’t be a Finals team.
Embiid will be the reason they stay in the game tonight. The Warriors’ interior defense gets a boost with Cousins back in the fold, but Golden State has struggled to defend offensive-minded big men all year long.
Cousins is great, but I would imagine most in the know would take Embiid over him at this point. The 24-year-old looks like the best center in the game already.
In just 30 minutes of work the other night in Los Angeles, Embiid piled up 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists. His season averages are up to 27.2 points, 13.3 rebounds and a hair under 2 blocks per game. He has the ability to step outside and knock down jumpers, but he does the vast majority of his damage on the block.
Whether the Warriors can shut down Embiid will go a long way toward dictating the outcome of this game. Cousins is the only guy on the Golden State side with the size to bother him.
If Boogie is still seeing limited minutes, though, Embiid should get to feast on the likes of Kevon Looney and Draymond Green, who aren’t nearly big enough to handle the All-Star center once he gets into the paint.
The Sixers are at their best when they are being disruptive defensively, which allows them to get out and run no the break. We saw plenty of that the other night against the Lakers, especially in the first half. The 76ers goaded the Lakers into committing 21 turnovers that night, which was essentially the deciding factor in the game.
One weakness the Warriors do have is that they’re prone to coughing the ball up, as well. If the Sixers can get their hands on some loose balls tonight, they have a good chance at keeping this one competitive for 4 quarters.
I was surprised to see a 9.5 spread on this game. I know the Warriors are electrifying, especially when they’re at home, but you won’t see a team of Philly’s quality listed as a 9.5 underdog very often at all. Golden State obviously presents a unique challenge, but I expect the 76ers to be ready for this game.
This could always wind up looking dumb, but I don’t think it’s crazy to suggest that this one could be close. The Warriors still have more on-paper talent, but the Sixers present matchup issues for the Warriors that they don’t often see.
In addition to Embiid, I’m not sure who on the Warriors roster is equipped to defend a 6’10” point guard in Simmons. If he can knife his way into the paint with regularity here, the Dubs could be in some trouble.
I’m not going so far as to say that the 76ers will win tonight, but I do like their chances at keeping it close for most of the game.
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